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Is	
  Social	
  Media	
  an	
  Environmental	
  Sustainable	
  Marketing	
  Strategy?	
  
By	
   Yao	
   Yang	
   &	
   Wanting	
   Fu	
   of	
   University	
   of	
   Sydney	
   as	
   part	
   of	
   their	
   Masters	
   of	
  
Sustainability	
  Programme	
  Capstone	
  Research	
  Project	
  2017.	
   	
  
	
  
The	
   Interactive	
   Advertising	
   Bureau	
   (IAB)	
   online	
   advertising	
   expenditure	
   report	
  
(2016),	
  indicated	
  that	
  the	
  Australian	
  online	
  advertising	
  market	
  grew	
  from	
  $1.6	
  billion	
  
in	
   2015	
   to	
   $6.8	
   billion	
   for	
   the	
   full	
   financial	
   year	
   ending	
   30	
   June	
   2016.	
   Online	
  
advertising	
   is	
   developing	
   into	
   the	
   main	
   method	
   employed	
   by	
   the	
   advertising	
  
industry.	
  To	
  achievement	
  their	
  marketing	
  goals	
  efficiency	
  companies	
  are	
  expected	
  to	
  
create	
   and	
   produce	
   more	
   and	
   more	
   online	
   advertising	
   content,	
   utilize	
   the	
   latest	
  
technology	
  which	
  in	
  turn	
  increases	
  the	
  amount	
  of	
  data	
  in	
  the	
  market.	
   	
  
	
  
In	
  a	
  survey	
  we	
  conducted	
  of	
  “customers’	
  attitudes	
  towards	
  online	
  advertising”,	
  the	
  
results	
  show	
  that	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  people	
  have	
  negative	
  emotions	
  about	
  internet	
  advertising,	
  
such	
   as	
   traditional	
   banner	
   advertising,	
   static	
   banner	
   advertising,	
   and	
   pop-­‐up	
  
advertising.	
   However,	
   respondents	
   have	
   a	
   more	
   neutral	
   attitude,	
   even	
   positive	
  
attitude	
   towards	
   social	
   media	
   advertising.	
   Therefore	
   we	
   observed	
   an	
   increasing	
  
number	
  of	
  marketers	
  focusing	
  on	
  social	
  media	
  marketing.	
  
	
  
Nevertheless,	
   the	
   environmental	
   effect	
   of	
   online	
   advertising,	
   particularly	
  
Greenhouse	
  Gas	
  (GHG)	
  emissions,	
  remains	
  uncertain.	
  Additionally,	
  many	
  customers	
  
and	
   marketers	
   believe	
   that	
   internet	
   advertising	
   does	
   not	
   release	
   GHG	
   emissions;	
  
however,	
  this	
  is	
  a	
  false	
  assumption.	
  The	
  will	
  question	
  that	
  needs	
  to	
  be	
  asked	
  is	
  will	
  
social	
  media	
  advertising	
  be	
  an	
  environmentally	
  sustainable	
  marketing	
  strategy?	
  To	
  
attempt	
  to	
  answer	
  this	
  question	
  let’s	
  example	
  the	
  two	
  of	
  the	
  elements	
  that	
  make	
  
this	
  up:	
  data	
  usage	
  and	
  electricity	
  usage.	
  
	
  
The	
  Formula	
  for	
  calculating	
  Carbon	
  Emissions	
  in	
  Social	
  Media	
  Advertising	
  
	
  
Facebook	
  is	
  the	
  world’s	
  foremost	
  social	
  media	
  platform;	
  it	
  enjoys	
  higher	
  usage	
  time	
  
per	
  person	
  than	
  any	
  other	
  social	
  media	
  application.	
  Therefore,	
  this	
  project	
  will	
  use	
  
Facebook’s	
   advertising	
   business	
   for	
   this	
   research	
   (Facebook,	
   2017).	
   In	
   2016,	
  
according	
   to	
   Facebook	
   their	
   total	
   carbon	
   footprint	
   was	
   718,000	
   metric	
   tonnes	
   of	
  
carbon	
  dioxide	
  equivalent.	
  Offices	
  and	
  other	
  business	
  activity	
  accounted	
  for	
  28%	
  of	
  
the	
  carbon	
  footprint.	
  The	
  other	
  72%	
  is	
  from	
  the	
  data	
  centres	
  (Facebook,	
  2017).	
  
	
  
Facebook	
  currently	
  offers	
  several	
  different	
  advertising	
  formats,	
  such	
  as	
  photo,	
  video,	
  
slideshow,	
   carousal,	
   collection,	
   canvas	
   and	
   lead	
   advertising.	
   The	
   most	
   popular	
  
format	
  is	
  photo	
  advertising,	
  which	
  takes	
  the	
  form	
  of	
  one	
  image	
  plus	
  text.	
  The	
  size	
  of	
  
the	
   image	
   is	
   1200  ×  628	
   pixels,	
   the	
   text	
   limit	
   is	
   90	
   characters	
   and	
   file	
   size	
   is	
  
approximately	
  154	
  KB	
  (Social	
  Media	
  Image	
  Sizes	
  Cheat	
  Sheet,	
  2017).	
  We	
  calculate	
  
that	
  when	
  customers	
  see	
  the	
  photo	
  advertising,	
  the	
  end	
  user	
  will	
  consume	
  190	
  KB	
  of	
  
data.	
   	
  
 
According	
  to	
  the	
  methodology	
  from	
  The	
  Gaia	
  Partnership,	
  there	
  are	
  three	
  separate	
  
activities	
  that	
  make	
  up	
  the	
  calculation	
  of	
  GHG	
  emissions:	
  
1)	
  The	
  Design	
  and	
  Production	
  of	
  the	
  content.	
   	
  
2)	
  Storage	
  &	
  Delivery.	
  
3)	
  Consumption	
  by	
  end	
  user.	
   	
  
	
  
The	
  average	
  quantity	
  of	
  carbon	
  in	
  a	
  1	
  MB	
  file	
  has	
  been	
  determined	
  by	
  Weber	
  et	
  al.	
  
(2010)	
   and	
   Aslan	
   et	
   al.	
   (2017).	
   The	
   researchers	
   conclude	
   that	
   5g	
   carbon	
   dioxide	
  
equivalent	
  is	
  released	
  when	
  customers	
  use	
  1MB	
  of	
  data.	
  The	
  intensity	
  of	
  emissions	
  
for	
  internet	
  advertising	
  delivery	
  lies	
  in	
  the	
  range	
  of	
  256.28–	
  676.76	
  kg	
  carbon	
  dioxide	
  
equivalent	
  per	
  million	
  impressions	
  (Taylor	
  &	
  Koomey,	
  2008).	
  
	
  
Another	
  point	
  to	
  be	
  considered	
  is	
  electricity	
  usage.	
  On	
  average,	
  electricity	
  sources	
  
emit	
   554	
   g	
   CO2	
  per	
   KWh	
   (Department	
   of	
   Energy’s	
   Energy	
   Information	
  
Administration,	
  2017).	
  According	
  to	
  2016	
  Australian	
  Energy	
  Statistics,	
  the	
  medium	
  
advertising	
  agency	
  will	
  consume	
  100	
  KWh	
  in	
  one	
  day,	
  and	
  producing	
  one	
  advertising	
  
photo	
  will	
  use	
  an	
  average	
  15	
  KWh.	
  
	
  
The	
  calculation	
  formula	
  is	
  as	
  follows:	
  
	
  
Total	
  carbon	
  emissions	
  (photo	
  ads)	
  
  = 𝑓𝑖𝑙𝑒  𝑠𝑖𝑧𝑒  ×  5𝑔/𝑚𝑏   + 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑡  𝑑𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦  ×  𝑛!
+ 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑢𝑚𝑝𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛  𝑏𝑦  𝑒𝑛𝑑  𝑢𝑠𝑒𝑟  ×  5𝑔/𝑚𝑏  ×  𝑛!
+ 𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑟𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦  𝑢𝑠𝑒  ×  554𝑔/𝐾𝑊ℎ  	
  
n1
	
  =	
  impression	
  number	
  
n2
	
  =	
  user	
  number	
  
	
  
Thus,	
   when	
   one	
   customer	
   sees	
   the	
   photo	
   advertisement	
   8.312	
   kg	
   carbon	
   dioxide	
  
equivalent	
   will	
   be	
   released,	
   and	
   this	
   quantity	
   increases	
   with	
   the	
   number	
   of	
  
impressions,	
  viewers	
  and	
  electricity	
  usage.	
  By	
  the	
  time	
  that	
  1	
  million	
  people	
  have	
  
seen	
  the	
  photo	
  advertisement,	
  1.425	
  tonnes	
  of	
  carbon	
  dioxide	
  equivalent	
  will	
  have	
  
been	
  released.	
  In	
  terms	
  of	
  GHG	
  emissions,	
  this	
  is	
  the	
  equivalent	
  to	
  the	
  output	
  from	
  
an	
  average	
  car	
  being	
  driven	
  non-­‐stop	
  for	
  2.31	
  days.	
  
	
  
Although	
  in	
  this	
  example	
  we	
  have	
  only	
  considered	
  one	
  format,	
  other	
  social	
  media	
  
advertising	
  formats	
  also	
  can	
  use	
  the	
  same	
  formula	
  to	
  calculate	
  carbon	
  emissions.	
  
	
  
However,	
  one	
  thing	
  should	
  be	
  noted	
  is	
  that	
  this	
  value	
  may	
  not	
  be	
  precise,	
  and	
  will	
  
alter	
  depending	
  on	
  various	
  factors.	
   	
  
	
  
For	
   example,	
   different	
   devices,	
   for	
   the	
   electricity	
   usage	
   calculation,	
   we	
   used	
   a	
  
Greenhouse	
   Gas	
   Equivalencies	
   Calculator	
   to	
   do	
   the	
   on-­‐line	
   calculation,	
   which	
   is	
  
provided	
   by	
   The	
   United	
   States	
   Environmental	
   Protection	
   Agency	
   (EPA).	
   This	
  
calculator	
  transforms	
  the	
  kilowatt	
  hours	
  of	
  electricity	
  to	
  the	
  metric	
  tons	
  of	
  carbon	
  
dioxide	
  equivalent	
  in	
  the	
  USA.	
  
	
  
First	
   of	
   all,	
   the	
   average	
   power	
   consumption	
   by	
   electronic	
   products	
   should	
   be	
  
considered	
   clearly.	
   The	
   average	
   mobile	
   phone	
   consumes	
   one	
   kilowatt-­‐hour	
   of	
  
electricity	
  per	
  two	
  hundred	
  and	
  fifty	
  hours,	
  and	
  the	
  computer	
  consumes	
  twice	
  as	
  
much	
  electricity	
  every	
  three	
  hours	
  (Balasubramanian	
  et	
  al.,	
  2009).	
  It	
  means	
  every	
  
hour	
   the	
   mobile	
   phone	
   consumes	
   0.0004	
   kilowatt-­‐hours	
   of	
   electricity,	
   while	
   the	
  
computer	
  consumes	
  0.67.	
  Then,	
  using	
  the	
  EPA	
  calculator,	
  it	
  is	
  shown	
  that	
  the	
  use	
  of	
  
mobile	
  phone	
  and	
  computer	
  will	
  produce	
  5g	
  and	
  500g	
  carbon	
  dioxide	
  respectively.	
  
	
  
It	
  is	
  very	
  complicated	
  to	
  calculate	
  the	
  amount	
  of	
  electricity	
  generated	
  by	
  different	
  
electronic	
   products	
   under	
   the	
   same	
   activity.	
   The	
   first	
   reason	
   is,	
   when	
   comparing	
  
different	
   brands	
   or	
   the	
   same	
   brand	
   but	
   different	
   models	
   of	
   mobile	
   phone,	
   the	
  
electricity	
  capacity	
  varies.	
  For	
  example,	
  the	
  electricity	
  capacity	
  of	
  the	
  iPhone6	
  and	
  
iPhone6	
  +	
  are	
  1810	
  and	
  2915	
  mAh	
  respectively	
  (Singh,	
  2015).	
  Furthermore,	
  other	
  
intricate	
  factors	
  also	
  need	
  to	
  be	
  factored	
  into	
  the	
  calculation,	
  such	
  as	
  the	
  standby	
  
time	
   for	
   the	
   mobile	
   phone	
   and	
   the	
   internet	
   environment	
   (Bertoldi	
   et	
   al.,	
   2002).	
  
Therefore,	
  for	
  different	
  electronic	
  products,	
  it	
  is	
  difficult	
  to	
  calculate	
  their	
  different	
  
power	
   consumption	
   because	
   there	
   are	
   too	
   many	
   variable	
   factors	
   to	
   to	
   be	
  
considered.	
  
	
  
Additionally,	
  different	
  operating	
  system	
  will	
  consume	
  different	
  data	
  usage.	
  There	
  is	
  a	
  
most	
  popular	
  social	
  app	
  in	
  China,	
  called	
  Wechat	
  (Xu	
  et	
  al.,	
  2015).	
  When	
  running	
  the	
  
background	
  program	
  of	
  Wechat	
  for	
  an	
  hour	
  on	
  the	
  Android	
  or	
  Apple	
  system,	
  the	
  
result	
  is	
  quite	
  different.	
  There	
  are	
  two	
  different	
  access	
  points	
  to	
  the	
  internet,	
  .NET	
  
and	
  WAP	
  (Hinton	
  et	
  al.,	
  2011).	
  If	
  people	
  use	
  the	
  Apple	
  system,	
  no	
  matter	
  if	
  it	
  is	
  .NET	
  
or	
   WAP,	
   the	
   data	
   usage	
   is	
   almost	
   zero.	
   If	
   they	
   use	
   the	
   Android	
   system,	
   .NET	
   will	
  
consume	
  2.4KB	
  per	
  hour	
  and	
  WAP	
  will	
  consume	
  3~15KB	
  per	
  hour.	
  According	
  to	
  the	
  
above	
   data,	
   it	
   is	
   clear	
   that	
   the	
   same	
   activity	
   will	
   produce	
   different	
   data	
   usage	
   in	
  
different	
  systems,	
  therefore,	
  the	
  amount	
  of	
  carbon	
  dioxide	
  emissions	
  is	
  different.	
  
	
  
When	
  considering	
  the	
  reasons	
  why	
  the	
  Android	
  system	
  will	
  consume	
  more	
  data	
  than	
  
the	
  Apple	
  system,	
  it	
  can	
  be	
  explained	
  by	
  the	
  operation	
  and	
  management	
  mode	
  of	
  
the	
  different	
  systems.	
  On	
  the	
  one	
  hand,	
  the	
  Android	
  system	
  being	
  an	
  open	
  source	
  
system,	
  some	
  software	
  will	
  be	
  automatically	
  added	
  into	
  the	
  background	
  programs	
  so	
  
the	
   data	
   usage	
   will	
   greatly	
   increase	
   (Wang	
   et	
   al.,	
   2011).	
   The	
   Apple	
   system	
   is	
   a	
  
non-­‐open	
   source	
   system;	
   the	
   possibility	
   of	
   software	
   being	
   added	
   into	
   the	
  
background	
   is	
   small.	
   On	
   the	
   other	
   hand,	
   the	
   Android	
   system	
   does	
   not	
   have	
  
mandatory	
   and	
   unified	
   application	
   market	
   guidelines;	
   therefore	
   there	
   are	
   often	
  
multiple	
   application	
   marketplaces.	
   When	
   an	
   app	
   needs	
   updating,	
   Android	
   phones	
  
may	
  receive	
  various	
  push	
  notifications	
  from	
  different	
  application	
  markets,	
  therefore	
  
producing	
  more	
  data	
  usages	
  (Wang	
  et	
  al.,	
  2011).	
  
 
This	
  is	
  not	
  to	
  say	
  Apple	
  system	
  is	
  better	
  than	
  Android	
  system,	
  in	
  fact,	
  Android	
  system	
  
will	
  not	
  consume	
  more	
  data	
  if	
  the	
  operation	
  style	
  is	
  operating	
  correctly.	
  There	
  are	
  
some	
  areas	
  where	
  Android	
  users	
  could	
  adapt	
  to	
  improve	
  their	
  data	
  usage.	
  Firstly,	
  
when	
  downloading	
  the	
  software,	
  it	
  is	
  better	
  to	
  choose	
  to	
  turn	
  off	
  some	
  unnecessary	
  
push	
   information.	
   Secondly,	
   use	
   correct	
   specialist	
   apps	
   that	
   optimize	
   software	
  
management	
  on	
  a	
  regular	
  basis.	
  Thirdly,	
  when	
  the	
  phone	
  is	
  not	
  in	
  operation,	
  turning	
  
off	
  the	
  network	
  to	
  avoid	
  background	
  operations.	
  
	
  
Recommendations	
  &	
  Solutions	
  for	
  the	
  Three	
  Different	
  Emission	
  emitting	
  activities	
  
There	
   are	
   three	
   different	
   groups	
   to	
   target	
   to	
   reduce	
   carbon	
   emissions	
   caused	
   by	
  
social	
  media	
  advertising.	
  These	
  are	
  i)	
  the	
  advertising	
  companies	
  who	
  create	
  social	
  
media	
   marketing,	
   ii)	
   the	
   social	
   media	
   companies,	
   like	
   Facebook,	
   and	
   iii)	
   the	
  
customers.	
  
	
  
Firstly,	
  the	
  advertising	
  companies	
  who	
  generate	
  the	
  social	
  media	
  marketing	
  achieve	
  
their	
  advertising	
  goals	
  by	
  selecting	
  the	
  right	
  type	
  of	
  content	
  for	
  the	
  right	
  audience.	
  
They	
  need	
  to	
  capture	
  the	
  audience’s	
  attention	
  in	
  a	
  creative	
  manner	
  and	
  generate	
  a	
  
satisfying	
   post-­‐click	
   experience	
   for	
   potential	
   customers.	
   It	
   is	
   most	
   important	
   that	
  
they	
  measure	
  their	
  results.	
  The	
  data	
  that	
  is	
  collected	
  and	
  analysed	
  can	
  then	
  be	
  used	
  
to	
  continuously	
  improve	
  the	
  communication	
  by	
  making	
  changes	
  to	
  their	
  campaign.	
  
This	
  avoids	
  unnecessary	
  waste,	
  in	
  terms	
  of	
  both	
  budget,	
  data	
  usage	
  and	
  therefore	
  
carbon	
  emissions.	
  
	
  
Facebook	
  can	
  improve	
  its	
  GHG	
  output	
  by	
  adopting	
  wholly	
  renewable	
  energy	
  sources,	
  
by	
  making	
  changes	
  to	
  its	
  data	
  centre	
  and	
  computing	
  efficiency.	
  Facebook	
  business	
  is	
  
committed	
   to	
   powering	
   their	
   business	
   with	
   100%	
   clean	
   and	
   renewable	
   energy.	
   In	
  
2015,	
  it	
  exceeded	
  its	
  stated	
  goal	
  of	
  reaching	
  25%	
  clean	
  and	
  renewable	
  energy	
  in	
  its	
  
data	
  centre	
  electricity	
  supply	
  mix	
  (Facebook,	
  2017).	
  However,	
  Facebook	
  also	
  has	
  had	
  
some	
  problems	
  with	
  building	
  renewable	
  energy	
  stations	
  where	
  the	
  public	
  may	
  not	
  
allow	
   Facebook	
   to	
   build	
   a	
   renewable	
   energy	
   station	
   near	
   their	
   house.	
   So	
   this	
  
transition	
  process	
  still	
  has	
  a	
  long	
  way	
  to	
  go.	
  
Additionally,	
  some	
  online	
  functions	
  can	
  be	
  designed	
  to	
  reduce	
  GHG	
  emissions.	
  For	
  
example,	
  Alipay	
  in	
  China,	
  which	
  is	
  similar	
  to	
  PayPal	
  in	
  Australia,	
  has	
  an	
  app	
  called	
  
‘Ant	
  Forest’.	
  Users	
  can	
  sign	
  up	
  to	
  a	
  "carbon	
  account"	
  that	
  measures	
  their	
  carbon	
  
footprints.	
  Alipay	
  users	
  who	
  walk,	
  travel	
  by	
  subway,	
  pay	
  their	
  utilities	
  and	
  purchase	
  
travel	
  tickets	
  online	
  and	
  adopt	
  other	
  green	
  actions,	
  will	
  earn	
  green	
  energy	
  points.	
  
When	
  users	
  have	
  gathered	
  the	
  equivalent	
  of	
  17.9	
  kg	
  of	
  green	
  energy,	
  they	
  can	
  grow	
  
a	
  virtual	
  tree	
  via	
  their	
  phone.	
  This	
  can	
  then	
  be	
  converted	
  to	
  a	
  real	
  Haloxylon	
  tree,	
  
which	
  the	
  Ant	
  Forest	
  and	
  its	
  public	
  partners	
  plant	
  in	
  the	
  Alashan	
  in	
  Sinkiang,	
  west	
  of	
  
China	
  and	
  it	
  is	
  named	
  after	
  the	
  user.	
  The	
  reason	
  for	
  setting	
  this	
  value	
  is	
  that	
  on	
  
average,	
  a	
  Haloxylon	
  tree	
  can	
  absorb	
  17.9	
  kg	
  of	
  carbon	
  dioxide.	
  In	
  addition	
  to	
  
collecting	
  their	
  own	
  green	
  energy,	
  customers	
  can	
  also	
  ‘steal’	
  friends	
  green	
  energy	
  or	
  
help	
  ‘water’	
  friends’	
  trees,	
  which	
  can	
  increase	
  the	
  green	
  energy	
  by	
  10g	
  per	
  watering.	
  
	
  
The	
  "Ant	
  Forest"	
  project	
  has	
  been	
  in	
  place	
  with	
  Alipay	
  for	
  more	
  than	
  a	
  year.	
  It	
  uses	
  
mobile	
  internet,	
  cloud	
  computing,	
  large	
  data	
  and	
  other	
  technologies	
  to	
  encourage	
  
hundreds	
  of	
  millions	
  of	
  users	
  to	
  participate	
  in	
  a	
  greener	
  and	
  more	
  environmentally	
  
friendly	
   way	
   of	
   life.	
   In	
   fact,	
   “Ant	
   Forest”	
   has	
   become	
   an	
   initiative	
   of	
   the	
   United	
  
Nations	
  Environment	
  Program	
  promoting	
  global	
  green	
  financial	
  causes.	
  
	
  
Caption:	
  the	
  real	
  planted	
  tree	
  in	
  Inner	
  Mongolia	
  
	
   	
  
Facebook	
   and	
   other	
   social	
   media	
   companies	
   could	
   incorporate	
   a	
   similar	
   kind	
   of	
  
function	
  into	
  the	
  platform	
  to	
  offset	
  carbon	
  emissions,	
  and	
  encourage	
  customers	
  to	
  
join	
  in	
  this	
  action,	
  too.	
  
	
  
Customers	
  can	
  also	
  reduce	
  their	
  carbon	
  footprint	
  by	
  optimising	
   their	
   social	
   media	
  
options	
   and	
   controlling	
   their	
   own	
   data	
   usage.	
   For	
   example,	
   turning	
   off	
   auto	
   play,	
  
setting	
  the	
  advertising	
  to	
  only	
  display	
  items	
  of	
  interest	
  good	
  ways	
  to	
  avoid	
  wasting	
  
data.	
  
	
  
So	
   is	
   social	
   media	
   advertising	
   a	
   sustainable	
   development	
   marketing	
   strategy?	
   The	
  
answer	
  should	
  be	
  NO.	
  
	
   	
  
However,	
   will	
   social	
   media	
   advertising	
   be	
   a	
   sustainable	
   development	
   marketing	
  
strategy	
   in	
   the	
   future?	
   YES.	
   Measuring	
   the	
   effectiveness	
   of	
   online	
   advertising	
   still	
  
presents	
  a	
  challenge.	
  According	
  research	
  and	
  surveys,	
  social	
  media	
  advertising	
  has	
  
more	
  commercial	
  advantages	
  than	
  other	
  internet	
  advertising,	
  such	
  as	
  the	
  positive	
  
attitude	
  of	
  customers,	
  is	
  less	
  expensive	
  and	
  achieves	
  better	
  results	
  (Kim,	
  Kwon	
  &	
  
Chang,	
  2011).	
  Consequently,	
  social	
  media	
  advertising	
  is	
  an	
  effective	
  way	
  to	
  market	
  
online.	
  And	
  if	
  Facebook	
  or	
  other	
  social	
  media	
  companies	
  can	
  create	
  a	
  function	
  like	
  
Ant	
  Forest,	
  customers	
  will	
  undertake	
  more	
  green	
  actions,	
  which	
  will	
  have	
  long-­‐term	
  
social	
  and	
  environmental	
  effects	
  and	
  reinforce	
  the	
  corporate	
  image.	
  
	
  
Finally,	
  the	
  marketing	
  organisation	
  should	
  build	
  an	
  understanding	
  of	
  GHG	
  emissions	
  
from	
  social	
  media	
  advertising.	
  To	
  a	
  certain	
  extent,	
  the	
  above	
  recommendations	
  and	
  
solutions	
  could	
  help	
  social	
  media	
  advertising	
  to	
  achieve	
  stronger	
  sustainability	
  and	
  a	
  
circular	
  economy,	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  help	
  marketing	
  organisations	
  achieve	
  sustainable	
  online	
  
marketing.	
  
	
  
References	
  
	
  
Aslan,	
   Joshua,	
   Kieren	
   Mayers,	
   Jonathan	
   G	
   Koomey,	
   and	
   Chris	
   France.	
  
(2017).	
  Electricity	
   Intensity	
   of	
   Internet	
   Data	
   Transmission:	
   Untangling	
   the	
  
Estimates.	
  In	
  Press	
  at	
  The	
  Journal	
  of	
  Industrial	
  Ecology:	
  	
   February.	
  	
  
Australian	
  Government.	
  (2016).	
  office	
  of	
  the	
  chief	
  economist.	
  Retrieved	
  23	
  October	
  
2017,	
   from	
  
https://industry.gov.au/Office-­‐of-­‐the-­‐Chief-­‐Economist/Publications/Document
s/aes/2016-­‐australian-­‐energy-­‐statistics.pdf	
  
Balasubramanian,	
  N.,	
  Balasubramanian,	
  A.,	
  &	
  Venkataramani,	
  A.	
  (2009,	
  November).	
  
Energy	
  consumption	
  in	
  mobile	
  phones:	
  a	
  measurement	
  study	
  and	
  implications	
  
for	
  network	
  applications.	
  In	
  Proceedings	
  of	
  the	
  9th	
  ACM	
  SIGCOMM	
  conference	
  
on	
  Internet	
  measurement	
  conference	
  (pp.	
  280-­‐293).	
  ACM	
  
Bertoldi,	
  P.,	
  Aebischer,	
  B.,	
  Edlington,	
  C.,	
  Hershberg,	
  C.,	
  Lebot,	
  B.,	
  Lin,	
  J.,	
  ...	
  &	
  Siderius,	
  
H.	
  P.	
  (2002).	
  Standby	
  power	
  use:	
  How	
  big	
  is	
  the	
  problem?	
  What	
  policies	
  and	
   	
  
Hinton,	
  K.,	
  Baliga,	
  J.,	
  Feng,	
  M.,	
  Ayre,	
  R.,	
  &	
  Tucker,	
  R.	
  S.	
  (2011).	
  Power	
  consumption	
  
and	
  energy	
  efficiency	
  in	
  the	
  internet.	
  IEEE	
  Network,	
  25(2).	
  
IAB	
   Australia.	
   (2016).	
   Online	
   advertising	
   spend	
   reaches	
   record	
   $6.8	
   billion	
   in	
   2016	
  
financial	
  year	
  -­‐	
  IAB	
  Press	
  Releases.	
  Iabaustralia.com.au.	
  Retrieved	
  27	
  July	
  2017,	
  
from	
  
https://www.iabaustralia.com.au/news-­‐and-­‐updates/iab-­‐press-­‐releases/item/
22-­‐iab-­‐press-­‐releases/2161-­‐online-­‐advertising-­‐spend-­‐reaches-­‐record-­‐6-­‐8-­‐billio
n-­‐in-­‐2016-­‐financial-­‐year	
  
Koomey,	
   J.	
   G.	
   (2008).	
   Worldwide	
   electricity	
   used	
   in	
   data	
   centers.	
  Environmental	
  
research	
  letters,	
  3(3),	
  034008.	
  
Koomey,	
   J.	
   G.,	
   Matthews,	
   H.	
   S.,	
   &	
   Williams,	
   E.	
   (2013).	
   Smart	
   everything:	
   Will	
  
intelligent	
  systems	
  reduce	
  resource	
  use?.	
  Annual	
  Review	
  of	
  Environment	
  and	
  
Resources,	
  38.	
  
Our	
  Footprint	
  |	
  Facebook.	
  (2017).	
  Sustainability.fb.com.	
  Retrieved	
  23	
  October	
  2017,	
  
from	
  https://sustainability.fb.com/our-­‐footprint/	
  
Sewell,	
   C.	
   (2016).	
  Sustainability	
   and	
   the	
   hidden	
   cost	
   of	
   media	
  
inefficiency.	
  Trinityp3.com.	
   Retrieved	
   27	
   July	
   2017,	
   from	
  
https://www.trinityp3.com/2016/05/sustainability-­‐and-­‐media-­‐inefficiency/	
  
Singh,	
  P.	
  (2015).	
  iPhone	
  6s–Apple–Apple	
  iPhone	
  6s	
  Full	
  phone	
  specification,	
  release	
  
date,	
  news	
  and	
  features|.	
  
Social	
   Media	
   Image	
   Sizes	
   Cheat	
   Sheet	
   -­‐	
   Make	
   A	
   Website	
   Hub.	
   (2017).	
  Make	
   A	
  
Website	
   Hub.	
   Retrieved	
   23	
   October	
   2017,	
   from	
  
https://makeawebsitehub.com/social-­‐media-­‐image-­‐sizes-­‐cheat-­‐sheet/	
  
Taylor,	
  C.,	
  &	
  Koomey,	
  J.	
  (2008).	
  Estimating	
  energy	
  use	
  and	
  greenhouse	
  gas	
  emissions	
  
of	
  internet	
  advertising.	
  Network.	
  
Wang,	
  C.,	
  Duan,	
  W.,	
  Ma,	
  J.,	
  &	
  Wang,	
  C.	
  (2011,	
  December).	
  The	
  research	
  of	
  Android	
  
System	
  architecture	
  and	
  application	
  programming.	
  In	
  Computer	
  Science	
  and	
  
Network	
  Technology	
  (ICCSNT),	
  2011	
  International	
  Conference	
  on	
  (Vol.	
  2,	
  pp.	
  
785-­‐790).	
  IEEE.	
  
Weber,	
   C.	
   L.,	
   Koomey,	
   J.	
   G.,	
   &	
   Matthews,	
   H.	
   S.	
   (2010).	
   The	
   energy	
   and	
   climate	
  
change	
  implications	
  of	
  different	
  music	
  delivery	
  methods.	
  Journal	
  of	
  Industrial	
  
Ecology,	
  14(5),	
  754-­‐769.	
  
Xu,	
  J.,	
  Kang,	
  Q.,	
  Song,	
  Z.,	
  &	
  Clarke,	
  C.	
  P.	
  (2015).	
  Applications	
  of	
  mobile	
  social	
  media:	
  
WeChat	
   among	
   academic	
   libraries	
   in	
   China.	
  The	
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Librarianship,	
  41(1),	
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Will social media advertising be a sustainable development marketing strategy 22.11.17 final

  • 1. Is  Social  Media  an  Environmental  Sustainable  Marketing  Strategy?   By   Yao   Yang   &   Wanting   Fu   of   University   of   Sydney   as   part   of   their   Masters   of   Sustainability  Programme  Capstone  Research  Project  2017.       The   Interactive   Advertising   Bureau   (IAB)   online   advertising   expenditure   report   (2016),  indicated  that  the  Australian  online  advertising  market  grew  from  $1.6  billion   in   2015   to   $6.8   billion   for   the   full   financial   year   ending   30   June   2016.   Online   advertising   is   developing   into   the   main   method   employed   by   the   advertising   industry.  To  achievement  their  marketing  goals  efficiency  companies  are  expected  to   create   and   produce   more   and   more   online   advertising   content,   utilize   the   latest   technology  which  in  turn  increases  the  amount  of  data  in  the  market.       In  a  survey  we  conducted  of  “customers’  attitudes  towards  online  advertising”,  the   results  show  that  a  lot  of  people  have  negative  emotions  about  internet  advertising,   such   as   traditional   banner   advertising,   static   banner   advertising,   and   pop-­‐up   advertising.   However,   respondents   have   a   more   neutral   attitude,   even   positive   attitude   towards   social   media   advertising.   Therefore   we   observed   an   increasing   number  of  marketers  focusing  on  social  media  marketing.     Nevertheless,   the   environmental   effect   of   online   advertising,   particularly   Greenhouse  Gas  (GHG)  emissions,  remains  uncertain.  Additionally,  many  customers   and   marketers   believe   that   internet   advertising   does   not   release   GHG   emissions;   however,  this  is  a  false  assumption.  The  will  question  that  needs  to  be  asked  is  will   social  media  advertising  be  an  environmentally  sustainable  marketing  strategy?  To   attempt  to  answer  this  question  let’s  example  the  two  of  the  elements  that  make   this  up:  data  usage  and  electricity  usage.     The  Formula  for  calculating  Carbon  Emissions  in  Social  Media  Advertising     Facebook  is  the  world’s  foremost  social  media  platform;  it  enjoys  higher  usage  time   per  person  than  any  other  social  media  application.  Therefore,  this  project  will  use   Facebook’s   advertising   business   for   this   research   (Facebook,   2017).   In   2016,   according   to   Facebook   their   total   carbon   footprint   was   718,000   metric   tonnes   of   carbon  dioxide  equivalent.  Offices  and  other  business  activity  accounted  for  28%  of   the  carbon  footprint.  The  other  72%  is  from  the  data  centres  (Facebook,  2017).     Facebook  currently  offers  several  different  advertising  formats,  such  as  photo,  video,   slideshow,   carousal,   collection,   canvas   and   lead   advertising.   The   most   popular   format  is  photo  advertising,  which  takes  the  form  of  one  image  plus  text.  The  size  of   the   image   is   1200  ×  628   pixels,   the   text   limit   is   90   characters   and   file   size   is   approximately  154  KB  (Social  Media  Image  Sizes  Cheat  Sheet,  2017).  We  calculate   that  when  customers  see  the  photo  advertising,  the  end  user  will  consume  190  KB  of   data.    
  • 2.   According  to  the  methodology  from  The  Gaia  Partnership,  there  are  three  separate   activities  that  make  up  the  calculation  of  GHG  emissions:   1)  The  Design  and  Production  of  the  content.     2)  Storage  &  Delivery.   3)  Consumption  by  end  user.       The  average  quantity  of  carbon  in  a  1  MB  file  has  been  determined  by  Weber  et  al.   (2010)   and   Aslan   et   al.   (2017).   The   researchers   conclude   that   5g   carbon   dioxide   equivalent  is  released  when  customers  use  1MB  of  data.  The  intensity  of  emissions   for  internet  advertising  delivery  lies  in  the  range  of  256.28–  676.76  kg  carbon  dioxide   equivalent  per  million  impressions  (Taylor  &  Koomey,  2008).     Another  point  to  be  considered  is  electricity  usage.  On  average,  electricity  sources   emit   554   g   CO2  per   KWh   (Department   of   Energy’s   Energy   Information   Administration,  2017).  According  to  2016  Australian  Energy  Statistics,  the  medium   advertising  agency  will  consume  100  KWh  in  one  day,  and  producing  one  advertising   photo  will  use  an  average  15  KWh.     The  calculation  formula  is  as  follows:     Total  carbon  emissions  (photo  ads)    = 𝑓𝑖𝑙𝑒  𝑠𝑖𝑧𝑒  ×  5𝑔/𝑚𝑏   + 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑛𝑒𝑡  𝑑𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦  ×  𝑛! + 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑢𝑚𝑝𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛  𝑏𝑦  𝑒𝑛𝑑  𝑢𝑠𝑒𝑟  ×  5𝑔/𝑚𝑏  ×  𝑛! + 𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑟𝑐𝑖𝑡𝑦  𝑢𝑠𝑒  ×  554𝑔/𝐾𝑊ℎ     n1  =  impression  number   n2  =  user  number     Thus,   when   one   customer   sees   the   photo   advertisement   8.312   kg   carbon   dioxide   equivalent   will   be   released,   and   this   quantity   increases   with   the   number   of   impressions,  viewers  and  electricity  usage.  By  the  time  that  1  million  people  have   seen  the  photo  advertisement,  1.425  tonnes  of  carbon  dioxide  equivalent  will  have   been  released.  In  terms  of  GHG  emissions,  this  is  the  equivalent  to  the  output  from   an  average  car  being  driven  non-­‐stop  for  2.31  days.     Although  in  this  example  we  have  only  considered  one  format,  other  social  media   advertising  formats  also  can  use  the  same  formula  to  calculate  carbon  emissions.     However,  one  thing  should  be  noted  is  that  this  value  may  not  be  precise,  and  will   alter  depending  on  various  factors.       For   example,   different   devices,   for   the   electricity   usage   calculation,   we   used   a   Greenhouse   Gas   Equivalencies   Calculator   to   do   the   on-­‐line   calculation,   which   is  
  • 3. provided   by   The   United   States   Environmental   Protection   Agency   (EPA).   This   calculator  transforms  the  kilowatt  hours  of  electricity  to  the  metric  tons  of  carbon   dioxide  equivalent  in  the  USA.     First   of   all,   the   average   power   consumption   by   electronic   products   should   be   considered   clearly.   The   average   mobile   phone   consumes   one   kilowatt-­‐hour   of   electricity  per  two  hundred  and  fifty  hours,  and  the  computer  consumes  twice  as   much  electricity  every  three  hours  (Balasubramanian  et  al.,  2009).  It  means  every   hour   the   mobile   phone   consumes   0.0004   kilowatt-­‐hours   of   electricity,   while   the   computer  consumes  0.67.  Then,  using  the  EPA  calculator,  it  is  shown  that  the  use  of   mobile  phone  and  computer  will  produce  5g  and  500g  carbon  dioxide  respectively.     It  is  very  complicated  to  calculate  the  amount  of  electricity  generated  by  different   electronic   products   under   the   same   activity.   The   first   reason   is,   when   comparing   different   brands   or   the   same   brand   but   different   models   of   mobile   phone,   the   electricity  capacity  varies.  For  example,  the  electricity  capacity  of  the  iPhone6  and   iPhone6  +  are  1810  and  2915  mAh  respectively  (Singh,  2015).  Furthermore,  other   intricate  factors  also  need  to  be  factored  into  the  calculation,  such  as  the  standby   time   for   the   mobile   phone   and   the   internet   environment   (Bertoldi   et   al.,   2002).   Therefore,  for  different  electronic  products,  it  is  difficult  to  calculate  their  different   power   consumption   because   there   are   too   many   variable   factors   to   to   be   considered.     Additionally,  different  operating  system  will  consume  different  data  usage.  There  is  a   most  popular  social  app  in  China,  called  Wechat  (Xu  et  al.,  2015).  When  running  the   background  program  of  Wechat  for  an  hour  on  the  Android  or  Apple  system,  the   result  is  quite  different.  There  are  two  different  access  points  to  the  internet,  .NET   and  WAP  (Hinton  et  al.,  2011).  If  people  use  the  Apple  system,  no  matter  if  it  is  .NET   or   WAP,   the   data   usage   is   almost   zero.   If   they   use   the   Android   system,   .NET   will   consume  2.4KB  per  hour  and  WAP  will  consume  3~15KB  per  hour.  According  to  the   above   data,   it   is   clear   that   the   same   activity   will   produce   different   data   usage   in   different  systems,  therefore,  the  amount  of  carbon  dioxide  emissions  is  different.     When  considering  the  reasons  why  the  Android  system  will  consume  more  data  than   the  Apple  system,  it  can  be  explained  by  the  operation  and  management  mode  of   the  different  systems.  On  the  one  hand,  the  Android  system  being  an  open  source   system,  some  software  will  be  automatically  added  into  the  background  programs  so   the   data   usage   will   greatly   increase   (Wang   et   al.,   2011).   The   Apple   system   is   a   non-­‐open   source   system;   the   possibility   of   software   being   added   into   the   background   is   small.   On   the   other   hand,   the   Android   system   does   not   have   mandatory   and   unified   application   market   guidelines;   therefore   there   are   often   multiple   application   marketplaces.   When   an   app   needs   updating,   Android   phones   may  receive  various  push  notifications  from  different  application  markets,  therefore   producing  more  data  usages  (Wang  et  al.,  2011).  
  • 4.   This  is  not  to  say  Apple  system  is  better  than  Android  system,  in  fact,  Android  system   will  not  consume  more  data  if  the  operation  style  is  operating  correctly.  There  are   some  areas  where  Android  users  could  adapt  to  improve  their  data  usage.  Firstly,   when  downloading  the  software,  it  is  better  to  choose  to  turn  off  some  unnecessary   push   information.   Secondly,   use   correct   specialist   apps   that   optimize   software   management  on  a  regular  basis.  Thirdly,  when  the  phone  is  not  in  operation,  turning   off  the  network  to  avoid  background  operations.     Recommendations  &  Solutions  for  the  Three  Different  Emission  emitting  activities   There   are   three   different   groups   to   target   to   reduce   carbon   emissions   caused   by   social  media  advertising.  These  are  i)  the  advertising  companies  who  create  social   media   marketing,   ii)   the   social   media   companies,   like   Facebook,   and   iii)   the   customers.     Firstly,  the  advertising  companies  who  generate  the  social  media  marketing  achieve   their  advertising  goals  by  selecting  the  right  type  of  content  for  the  right  audience.   They  need  to  capture  the  audience’s  attention  in  a  creative  manner  and  generate  a   satisfying   post-­‐click   experience   for   potential   customers.   It   is   most   important   that   they  measure  their  results.  The  data  that  is  collected  and  analysed  can  then  be  used   to  continuously  improve  the  communication  by  making  changes  to  their  campaign.   This  avoids  unnecessary  waste,  in  terms  of  both  budget,  data  usage  and  therefore   carbon  emissions.     Facebook  can  improve  its  GHG  output  by  adopting  wholly  renewable  energy  sources,   by  making  changes  to  its  data  centre  and  computing  efficiency.  Facebook  business  is   committed   to   powering   their   business   with   100%   clean   and   renewable   energy.   In   2015,  it  exceeded  its  stated  goal  of  reaching  25%  clean  and  renewable  energy  in  its   data  centre  electricity  supply  mix  (Facebook,  2017).  However,  Facebook  also  has  had   some  problems  with  building  renewable  energy  stations  where  the  public  may  not   allow   Facebook   to   build   a   renewable   energy   station   near   their   house.   So   this   transition  process  still  has  a  long  way  to  go.   Additionally,  some  online  functions  can  be  designed  to  reduce  GHG  emissions.  For   example,  Alipay  in  China,  which  is  similar  to  PayPal  in  Australia,  has  an  app  called   ‘Ant  Forest’.  Users  can  sign  up  to  a  "carbon  account"  that  measures  their  carbon   footprints.  Alipay  users  who  walk,  travel  by  subway,  pay  their  utilities  and  purchase   travel  tickets  online  and  adopt  other  green  actions,  will  earn  green  energy  points.   When  users  have  gathered  the  equivalent  of  17.9  kg  of  green  energy,  they  can  grow   a  virtual  tree  via  their  phone.  This  can  then  be  converted  to  a  real  Haloxylon  tree,   which  the  Ant  Forest  and  its  public  partners  plant  in  the  Alashan  in  Sinkiang,  west  of   China  and  it  is  named  after  the  user.  The  reason  for  setting  this  value  is  that  on   average,  a  Haloxylon  tree  can  absorb  17.9  kg  of  carbon  dioxide.  In  addition  to  
  • 5. collecting  their  own  green  energy,  customers  can  also  ‘steal’  friends  green  energy  or   help  ‘water’  friends’  trees,  which  can  increase  the  green  energy  by  10g  per  watering.     The  "Ant  Forest"  project  has  been  in  place  with  Alipay  for  more  than  a  year.  It  uses   mobile  internet,  cloud  computing,  large  data  and  other  technologies  to  encourage   hundreds  of  millions  of  users  to  participate  in  a  greener  and  more  environmentally   friendly   way   of   life.   In   fact,   “Ant   Forest”   has   become   an   initiative   of   the   United   Nations  Environment  Program  promoting  global  green  financial  causes.     Caption:  the  real  planted  tree  in  Inner  Mongolia       Facebook   and   other   social   media   companies   could   incorporate   a   similar   kind   of   function  into  the  platform  to  offset  carbon  emissions,  and  encourage  customers  to   join  in  this  action,  too.     Customers  can  also  reduce  their  carbon  footprint  by  optimising   their   social   media   options   and   controlling   their   own   data   usage.   For   example,   turning   off   auto   play,   setting  the  advertising  to  only  display  items  of  interest  good  ways  to  avoid  wasting   data.     So   is   social   media   advertising   a   sustainable   development   marketing   strategy?   The   answer  should  be  NO.       However,   will   social   media   advertising   be   a   sustainable   development   marketing   strategy   in   the   future?   YES.   Measuring   the   effectiveness   of   online   advertising   still   presents  a  challenge.  According  research  and  surveys,  social  media  advertising  has   more  commercial  advantages  than  other  internet  advertising,  such  as  the  positive  
  • 6. attitude  of  customers,  is  less  expensive  and  achieves  better  results  (Kim,  Kwon  &   Chang,  2011).  Consequently,  social  media  advertising  is  an  effective  way  to  market   online.  And  if  Facebook  or  other  social  media  companies  can  create  a  function  like   Ant  Forest,  customers  will  undertake  more  green  actions,  which  will  have  long-­‐term   social  and  environmental  effects  and  reinforce  the  corporate  image.     Finally,  the  marketing  organisation  should  build  an  understanding  of  GHG  emissions   from  social  media  advertising.  To  a  certain  extent,  the  above  recommendations  and   solutions  could  help  social  media  advertising  to  achieve  stronger  sustainability  and  a   circular  economy,  as  well  as  help  marketing  organisations  achieve  sustainable  online   marketing.     References     Aslan,   Joshua,   Kieren   Mayers,   Jonathan   G   Koomey,   and   Chris   France.   (2017).  Electricity   Intensity   of   Internet   Data   Transmission:   Untangling   the   Estimates.  In  Press  at  The  Journal  of  Industrial  Ecology:     February.     Australian  Government.  (2016).  office  of  the  chief  economist.  Retrieved  23  October   2017,   from   https://industry.gov.au/Office-­‐of-­‐the-­‐Chief-­‐Economist/Publications/Document s/aes/2016-­‐australian-­‐energy-­‐statistics.pdf   Balasubramanian,  N.,  Balasubramanian,  A.,  &  Venkataramani,  A.  (2009,  November).   Energy  consumption  in  mobile  phones:  a  measurement  study  and  implications   for  network  applications.  In  Proceedings  of  the  9th  ACM  SIGCOMM  conference   on  Internet  measurement  conference  (pp.  280-­‐293).  ACM   Bertoldi,  P.,  Aebischer,  B.,  Edlington,  C.,  Hershberg,  C.,  Lebot,  B.,  Lin,  J.,  ...  &  Siderius,   H.  P.  (2002).  Standby  power  use:  How  big  is  the  problem?  What  policies  and     Hinton,  K.,  Baliga,  J.,  Feng,  M.,  Ayre,  R.,  &  Tucker,  R.  S.  (2011).  Power  consumption   and  energy  efficiency  in  the  internet.  IEEE  Network,  25(2).   IAB   Australia.   (2016).   Online   advertising   spend   reaches   record   $6.8   billion   in   2016   financial  year  -­‐  IAB  Press  Releases.  Iabaustralia.com.au.  Retrieved  27  July  2017,   from   https://www.iabaustralia.com.au/news-­‐and-­‐updates/iab-­‐press-­‐releases/item/ 22-­‐iab-­‐press-­‐releases/2161-­‐online-­‐advertising-­‐spend-­‐reaches-­‐record-­‐6-­‐8-­‐billio n-­‐in-­‐2016-­‐financial-­‐year   Koomey,   J.   G.   (2008).   Worldwide   electricity   used   in   data   centers.  Environmental   research  letters,  3(3),  034008.   Koomey,   J.   G.,   Matthews,   H.   S.,   &   Williams,   E.   (2013).   Smart   everything:   Will   intelligent  systems  reduce  resource  use?.  Annual  Review  of  Environment  and   Resources,  38.   Our  Footprint  |  Facebook.  (2017).  Sustainability.fb.com.  Retrieved  23  October  2017,   from  https://sustainability.fb.com/our-­‐footprint/   Sewell,   C.   (2016).  Sustainability   and   the   hidden   cost   of   media   inefficiency.  Trinityp3.com.   Retrieved   27   July   2017,   from  
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